This was not written as a connected story. It came about in this manner--two local Boy Scouts, "Pete" Palen and "Doug" Monroe, came to me for the information on the past history of Margaretville to write an article to earn their citizenship Badges. Previously I had helped seven other local people with similar history, relating to them from my memory. I decided it would be much easier and more complete if I made notes ahead of the appointed time for the Boy Scouts to come.
A few notes were taken from the book Chapters in the History of Delaware County by John D. Monroe. Also, notes were taken from Munsell's History of Delaware County, 1797-1880. The remainder is from my memory of the past fifty-three years in Margaretville together with aid given me by several of our older local citizens, jotting down information that I received from them from time to time. It is mainly history and incidents of our little village. From the notes gathered to aid the two Boy Scouts, the history continued to grow, and other material concerning the surrounding area was added.
The year 1959 was designated as New York's Year of History with every community in the State urged to aid in its observance. But to my knowledge, no effort was ever made to write history of our little village.
Many changes occur in a space of fifty years, and many names of the past fifty years are unknown to the younger generation of today. Landmarks have passed away and new developments have come. Perhaps this little history of Margaretville and the surrounding area will recall many memories--pleasant or otherwise--to the older people of our village and enlighten the younger generation on the early settlement and history up to the present time.
My sincere appreciation and thanks to everyone who has contributed in any way with the history and incidents related in this book.
Date -- 1960 Ethel H. Bussy.
Delaware County was established as a separate and distinct county of the State by an act of the Legislature of New York passed March 10th, 1797, from the then existing counties of Ulster and Otsego.
So far as is known, the first white men to set foot in what is now Delaware County were members of some thirty-three German families in 1723. The next known appearance of white men in the area was in 1734. The third group of white men to enter the County was in 1738. Portions of what is now Delaware County had acquired a considerable population by 1776. Most, if not all, of this population was driven out by hostile action of the British Indians.
In 1800 the population of Delaware County was 10,228. The land was divided into what were called Patents. At the time of the Revolution, the title to something more than one-half of Delaware County was in a few families. The lands were sold to settlers in and after 1790 as wild lands at the rate of $3.00 per acre. All these lands had to be cleared of trees, brush, and stones and made suitable for farmland. All the stone walls came about from clearing the land. They also served as line marks for owners and to keep cattle within certain areas.
The Delaware County Indians, Algonquin in race, whose native name was Leni-lenape, were divided into three principal tribes, each with its Totem. These were Minsi or the Munsee whose totem was the wolf; the Terami, whose totem was the turtle or Great Tortoise; and the Unalachitgo, whose totem was the turkey.
Totemism, in Indian cosmography, covered a multitude of subjects and beliefs and governed the Indian in all his relations in life. One of the uses of the totem was as a mark or sign manual.
One of several settlements in Delaware County prior to the Revolution was at Sidney begun by Rev. Wm. Johnson in 1772. Another settlement in 1764 was called New Stamford and located on Town Brook near Hobart. Its settlers were largely from Stamford, Connecticut.
The lines of survey of 1764 were lost during the war and by an act of April 12, 1787, William Cockburn was directed to re-survey the tract then called "The Township of New Stamford."
The settlements of Harpersfield and Kortright were begun in 1771. The settlers of Harpersfield came principally from New England and those of Kortright largely from Scotland.
Between 1763 and 1778 at least 40 families from Shandaken, Marbletown, and the vicinity of Kingston had settled on the East Branch of the Delaware River in what is now Delaware County. These families came over Pine Hill by the route subsequently adopted for the old Sopas Turnpike. The houses were scattered along the river south down as far as Downsville. The names of the heads of these families in the vicinity of Margaretville were Harmanus DuMond, Petrus DuMond, Johannes VanWaggenen, Peter Hendricks, Peter Burger, John Burrows, Johannes Deyo, Peter Hynpagh, Frederick Kittle, James Markle, Albertus Sluyter, Simeon VanWaggenen, and William Yaple. The first four came in 1763 and were the first white settlers on the soil of Delaware County. The name applied to the settlement made by them was "Pakataghkan." The name is now written "Pakatakan." The word Pakataghkan had various spellings and meanings, two of which were "beetle" and "to shell corn."
Further down the East Branch of the Delaware, from Shavertown to near Downsville, other families settled prior to 1778. The settlement was designated "Papacunck." The name is derived from the Delaware word "Pepaqkank," meaning "sweet flag place." It is now called "Pepacton." The Indians were still about Pepacton in 1776. Prior to 1768, the area that is now Delaware County was in no county. The area got its status in organized government as a result of the Fort Stanwix Indian Treaty of 1768.
The Fort Stanwix Treaty of 1768, negotiated by Sir William Johnson with the Six Nations and other Indians, was signed at Fort Stanwix, now Rome, N. Y.
The treaty brought the area definitely out from the Indian country into the Province of New York. The great object of that treaty was to fix a boundary for the Indian country where no grants should be made and no settlements allowed.
In 1763 Harmanus DuMond, one of the first four settlers at Pakatakan, was furnished with a surveyed deed to seventy-five acres opposite Margaretville.
Pakatakan means in Indian language "he makes it clear" or "the meeting of the three rivers" as it was located on the confluence of the three streams.
It was first discovered in 1762 by white hunters from the settlement of Shandaken but had been deserted by its Indian occupants.
The old Indian settlement of Pakatakan a little above Margaretville was said by one of the earliest pioneers of the county to have been originally a Tuscarora village.
In the fall and winter of 1762-3, a party was formed in Ulster County under the old patroon system to explore the Delaware valley, and if a good location was found, they would immigrate here with their families.
Four families made the experiment and bought four farms at 20 shillings per acre.
The little Dutch colony continued to grow and in eight years numbered nine families.
The settlers thus far had maintained friendly relations with the Indians, but soon trouble arose.
During the winter of 1777-8, the Indians began a series of depredations upon the property of the settlers along the river as far as Pepacton. A body of Indians and hostile whites laid a plan to burn the homes of the white settlers at Pepacton and Pakatakan.
By the warning of a kindly Indian, most of the settlers hastily gathered a few belongings that they could carry and retreated over the mountain eastward to the Great Shandaken with a guard who had come from the Great Shandaken to help them escape.
Harmanus DuMond was one who would not leave with the guard and remained behind to secure certain property. The guard with his convoy had scarcely reached the Great Shandaken, when news came that Harmanus DuMond was shot in a raid by the Tories at Pakatakan. He died a few days later on August 29th and was buried at Pakatakan.
Another man who refused to leave at that time was John Burrows, but he was able to escape by taking a pathless course over Dry Brook Mountain into Shandaken.
The only thing approaching a battle of the Revolution on the soil of Delaware County was at Downsville on September 8, 1778. A battle was fought between fifty-two State Militiamen under Captain Samuel Clark, and about thirty-five or more Indians commanded by "Captain" Ben Shanks.
The battle raged from 5 a.m. until darkness. The next morning the Indians were gone, leaving four of their dead on the field. Two or three of Clark's men were also killed.
The first settler in the valley in 1784, where the village of Margaretville now stands, was "Ingnos" or "Egganaus DuMond" as he signed himself on the town records. He was a nephew of Harmanus DuMond.
He sold his claim later for $100 to John Tompkins, who built the first sawmill at this point.
Tompkins was succeeded by Salmon Scott and Jephtha Seager who divided the lands. Scott took the mill and the west half of the farm, and Seager took the remainder.
Scott was succeeded in 1843 by Dr. Orson M. Allaben, and Seager sold to David C. Sluyter.
A mill house had been built near the mill, and Salmon Scott had built a dwelling across the flats. These two buildings and the mill were all that were standing in 1843 where Margaretville village now lies. The sawmill made a way for the enterprises and industries which followed.
The road down the river was opened from the sawmill as a log road in the winter of 1843-4.
The lot that the "Ackerly House" was erected upon was purchased for $110 from a starting price of $25. As enthusiasm grew for the lot, the price went up. The building began at once, and in 1845, the hotel was opened by David Ackerly.
Religious meetings were held in the hotel, and on one occasion Rev. Ananias Ackerly preached a sermon in the sitting room.
The hotel was enlarged by the son of David Ackerly, and city boarders were accommodated.
The next building to be erected was the Dr. O. M. Allaben mansion, later to be known as the "Bee Hive" because of the many families living there.
Dr. Allaben had his office at his home, and the first store was kept in the office by Dr. Allaben and Ananias Ackerly.
After the Ulster and Delaware railroad was completed in 1871, a telegraph office was established in the village. This was an added attraction for the city people who came to spend the summer.
The growth of the village had been rapid during the period thus far and on May 8, 1875, the village was incorporated.
In 1925 Delaware County had 2,358 miles of highways, the third greatest county highway mileage in the State. For many years some roads were operated as toll gate roads. At toll gates along the roads a toll was paid. This was for the upkeep of the roads. The nearest one to Margaretville was at Dunraven on the road to Delhi. This toll gate was operated as late as 1906. It was at the point where the post office at Dunraven was formerly located.
The only post offices in Delaware County in 1805 were Delhi, Franklin, Harpersfield, Kortright, Meredith, Middletown, Stamford and Walton.
Early mail was distributed at the residence of Colonel John Grant before 1800.
The 'Sopus Turnpike over Cabin Hill was finished in 1805-06. Toll gates were erected every ten miles and tolls collected at each place.
After completion of the 'Sopus Turnpike a regular office was established, and Colonel Grant was Postmaster over forty years. He was succeeded by Captain Asa Grant. During this period of the early Post Office, it was kept at the house of Hon. Daniel Waterbury which was located in Dunraven just east of the Old Stone Schoolhouse and the Old Covered Bridge.
The Waterbury house was built in 1791. (An early store was also kept there.)
In early days mail-riders, men on horseback, would collect mail for a certain area and place it in a large mail box where people went to collect their mail. The "Old Elm" post box, a box mailed on an old elm tree, was used near Lumberville, later called Arena. Margaretville was made a post station June 15, 1848, and Dr. O. M. Allaben was made Postmaster. He was followed by G. G. Decker.
The first post office building in the village was a small addition on the G. G. Decker store.
Stage coaches were the main travel of the early days for passengers and mail. With the horse drawn coaches, four horses to a coach, drivers and horses were changed several times on long trips. It was pretty slow travel compared to our modern day methods. George E. Chase, born in Hamden in 1822, at the age of 17 years was one of the early stage coach drivers. Chase ran the line as proprietor for eight years immediately after 1844 and was associated with his son-in-law, Wheeler W. Clark. Operations were curtailed after the railroad came along in 1870.
The Wheeler W. Clark mentioned above was one of the well-to-do men of his day and called "The Clark." He was owner of much of the land around where here the Robert McMurray home is today in Dunraven. The McMurray home was then an inn and tavern. A bark tanning factory was also built by the Clarks nearby. The tall stone chimney of the tannery is still standing on the fiat across the Platterkill Stream and near the home of John McMurray. The place was called "Clark's Factory."
The first tannery in Middletown was built in 1811 near the site of Clark's Factory in Dunraven.
Dr. Adam Clark built his tannery in 1848 after fire had destroyed the earlier one built in 1811.
In the early days of lumbering and tanning, leather breeches were so extensively worn by the workers that some of the early tanneries added "beating mills" where leather for breeches was beaten to render it pliable.
Mrs. J. S. Bussy of Margaretville is now owner of a large antique banjo clock that belonged to the Wheeler Clark family. The frame is made of mahogany and rosewood with gold trim on the glass. It runs perfectly. It has a heavy lead weight inside that goes up and down during the eight day period. Mrs. Bussy has quite a story that she tells about the clock before it came in her possession.
In 1839 David P. Mapes, then a steamboat captain on the Hudson River, started the first line of coaches on the old 'Sopus Turnpike. Captain Mapes, after going to Washington and getting a mail route established from Kingston to Delhi, bought three Troy coaches and thirty horses and established the first line of coaches west from Kingston. As the coaches went through there was great rejoicing along the line by people who had never seen a four horse team and coaches. The line of coaches established by Captain Mapes made trips from Delhi to Livingston three times per week The trip one way was made in a day. The coaches arrived in Roundout in time for the evening boat for New York. Captain Mapes once lived in Roxbury, N.Y.
After Captain Mapes, in April 1852, Henry Edgerton ran a daily stage coach for a period of three years. In March, 1854, John Burroughs, then 17 years old, rode on the Edgerton stage from Clovesville below Fleischmanns to Olive in Ulster County. Burroughs took this trip and was hired as teacher of the country school at Tongore. Cornelius Winne was proprietor of the stage from Delhi to Kingston from 1862 to 1870. Wheeler W. Clark and George E. Chase, under the name of "Clark and Chase," began to operate the stage line in the spring of 1870. More than thirty years before when he was 17, George E. Chase drove the first stage on the route.
In May, 1870, the railroad first came to the Great Shandaken. The railroad passed over much of the early stage coach route; 1877 marked the end of the four horse coaches on the turnpike. From 1877 the four horse coaches continued daily between Delhi and "Deans Corners" as Arkville was then called. At one time the price of the trip by stage coach from Delhi to Kingston and Roundout was $2.75, and the price by boat from Roundout to New York was $3.50. The scheduled rate of speed of the stage coach turnpike was less than six miles per hour. However, on Palmer Hill sometimes the drivers would gallop the horses into Andes. One afternoon idlers, bystanders, and others waiting for the mail were struck with admiration at the dramatic horsemanship with which "Cage Corbin," the driver, came charging down the road and drew up at the post office with the brakes screaming and every horse on his haunches as the coach lurched to a standstill. They were in despair, however, when the near leader horse dropped dead in his tracks as "Cage" released the lines.
"Look, Cage," shouted a bystander, "that leader's neck was broken when you stopped so short."
"Nonsense," said Cage, "that horse died on top of Palmer Hill, but we came down so fast he didn't have time to fall until we got to the Post Office." Cage Corbin was the last driver of the four horse stage coach.
The Lenape Indians were also called the "Delawares." The Delawares occupied the territory from the head waters of the Delaware River westward along the river and southward to the Potomac.
The county and river are named for the Delaware Indians.
They called the Catskills the "Onti-oras" (now written "Onteora") or "land in the sky" referring to the height of the mountains.
The original spelling of the Catskills was "Kaatskills." It was so called by the Dutch because of the many wild cats in the mountains combined with the word "kill," a Dutch word meaning stream. From the earliest days, our region has been known for its good hunting and fishing which is now mainly a sport, but for the Indians and earlier settlers, these were the main ways of obtaining food and the furs for trading. Our local fishing has been somewhat changed with the building of the Pepacton Reservoir.
The reservoir has been a source of excellent fishing since its construction. It is called "Paradise for Fishermen." Some of the small streams are posted, and some are privately owned by clubs.
Delaware County covers thirteen hundred square miles. There are numberless miles of stone walls three and four feet thick which were constructed when the land was cleared in early years. Trimly built stone walls have always been things of beauty.
Still to be found in some places are sharp stones placed upright on top of the old stone walls. These were so placed to make it more difficult for sheep to jump over the walls.
Many sheep were raised in early days when their wool was necessary for making clothing, coverlets, et cetera. In early days wool brought the good price of around one dollar a pound and sometimes more for washed wool. At shearing time, when the weather became warm enough, the sheep were taken to a stream where they were washed before shearing.
Robert Livingston was owner of 500,000 acres of the Hardenbergh Patent. He died June 27, 1775 leaving as his only child and heir by law, Judge Robert R. Livingston. Judge Robert R. Livingston died less than six months later leaving a widow, the famous Margaret Beekman Livingston, and four sons and six daughters. The eldest was a son, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston.
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston divided 221,748 acres, much of the Hardenbergh Patent, among the family. In 1779 a deed to lot number 39 was given to his sister, Gertrude Livingston, who married Morgan Lewis. A daughter was born to them who was named Margaret and the village of Margaretville was named in her honor. Margaret finally inherited the tract given to her mother.
The village became known as Margaretville in 1850 up to which time it had been known as "Middletown Center."
Margaret Lewis later married a distant cousin named Livingston. This causes some confusion and often it is heard said that Margaretville was named for Margaret Livingston.
The elevation of Margaretville at the Bank corner is 1325 ft.
The population of the village in 1960 was 833. The elevation of Pakatakan mountain that towers like a giant fortress over the village is 2620 ft.
The early Hardenburgh mansion is between Grand Gorge and Prattsville on the old turnpike road which had Catskill for its eastern and Ithaca for its western terminals. The house is a large three story stone house standing on a knoll on the north side of the highway a mile and a half west of Prattsville.
In Colonial days there were few forms in which men could store up or demonstrate their wealth. About the only form of riches was tangible property - live stock, houses, and the first and foremost, land.
In New York State prior to the Revolution there were certain great families who considered themselves an hereditary aristocracy and who were rich and powerful almost wholly through their great holdings of land. Perhaps most of these great fortunes had their origin in the fact that from earliest days of the Dutch occupancy down until the beginning of the Revolution, it was the custom, first of the Dutch West India Company and later of the English Crown, to grant to certain influential and favored persons great tracts of land. In fact, most of the State east of Rome and Unadilla, the so called Fort Stanwix Treaty Line, was thus parceled out. On April 23, 1708, Queen Ann granted to her loyal subjects Johannes Hardenburgh and several others the largest single parcel of land conveyed by Royal Letters Patent in the history of the State.
The grantors failed to realize what a tremendous area they were conveying. The eastern boundary of the Patent was the watershed between the Hudson and the Delaware rivers and the western boundary was the western branch of the Delaware river.
It comprised land which is now part of the four counties of Delaware, Greene, Sullivan and Ulster. The approximate area was some two million acres. At the time the grant was made the whole vast region was an unexplored wilderness.
So far as it was occupied at all, the inhabitants were the Delaware Indians.
In 1749, more than forty years after the grant, the first effort to survey the land was made. The lots so surveyed averaged about 50 thousand acres. There was trouble with the Indians as to ownership of certain lands, resulting in the Fort Stanwix Treaty.
Immediately following the Revolution, settlers rapidly began to come. But it was about 1790 that a grandson of Johannes Hardenburgh came to live in his kingdom. He built the large stone home still standing and known as the Hardenburgh mansion. After erecting the home, he erected a sawmill and gristmill about a quarter of a mile away on the Bearkill. These were indispensable utilities of the pioneer neighborhood.
One of the first Post Offices established in that region was called "Hardenburgh Mills." The Post Office and the first store were in the basement of the Hardenburgh mansion.
The old home had an active business life and was, no doubt, the center of a social and political life as well. There were eight or more children in the family.
Much of the flat lands of the property were taken by New York City when they built the Gilboa Reservoir. The front door of the great house has a large bull's eye of greenish glass in it which enabled occupants of the house to look out without being seen from outside. It served as a lookout for Indians.
The Anti-Rent War occurred in New York State between 1839 and 1845 and had its origin in the leasehold or tenure of lands which was introduced into this country from Europe with the Patroons.
In early days when most of the land in our section was held by a few rich men or landlords (rich in land possession at least), no farmer could own his farm no matter how much he had improved the place, nor could he pass the property on to his sons at death. All property reverted to the landlords.
Trouble over this condition brought on the Anti Rent War. The climax and most spectacular events of the conflict took place in Delaware County with the murder of Under-Sheriff Osman Steele on the Dingle Hill road below Andes August 7, 1845. This occurred on the Moses Earle farm. Natives who fought in the Anti-Rent War disguised themselves as Indians. A sheep skin head mask that pulled down over the head, was worn. Holes were cut in the mask for the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Feathers decorated the top and on the back were jet black braids of coarse hair as though made from the hair of horses' tails. The rest of the outfit was a gown made like a smock of a red paisley design calico tied with a sash at the waist. It also had long sleeves and in length hung to the knees. Pieces of material were worn that fastened with a shir string at the ankles and above the knees. The outfit would fit almost any size man.
Mrs. Harry Hubbell of Kelly Corners has a complete outfit that was used in the Anti-Rent War.
A small valley in Vega, N. Y., is known as "Bed-Hollow." It obtained its name because it was the sleeping place of Anti-Rent Indians who went to that lonely place at night to escape the posse in the Anti-Rent War days.
My grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Harrington, moved to Bed-Hollow from Phoenicia where they previously lived. Their home at this location was a log cabin. Another log cabin in this section near the former David Mead farm was described to me by Leonil Mead, a resident of this village and son of David. It was a one room cabin with earth floor and a steep ladder led to lofts used as sleeping quarters. A family by the name of Dean were early occupants of this cabin.
The first trails to the mountains during Revolutionary years followed the Indian trails, and early travel was on horseback. Later the trails were widened enough for wagon roads. They followed the stream beds for the best grade, but the early roads were rugged and rough. The rugged wagon roads from Esopus (Kingston) to Pine Hill were replaced by the toll plank road in 1859.
The plank roads were made from the hemlock after the bark was peeled. It was about the only use made of the hemlock logs after the bark peeling. Most of it was left to decay in the forest where it fell.
With the heavy traffic of the tanning days, the plank road needed yearly repair. Funds were not available for this and the roads were in very bad condition.
After the railroad reached Shandaken and later Pine Hill in 1869, the plank road quickly disappeared. The railroad carried all passengers and freight.
After the plank road came what was known as "the stone tram road." These were used mainly in Ulster County, the great center of the bluestone industry.
The stone tram road was constructed of two parallel slabs of stone 16 to 18 inches wide, one for each wheel of the wagon. They were not too successful, for the large iron-bound wheels and heavy loads soon cut deep channels into the stone, and it was almost impossible to get the wagons out of the deep ruts.
When the Ashokan reservoir was being constructed, portions of the old stone tram road were still visible. With the collapse of the bluestone industry about 1895, the stone tram road fell into disuse.
With the coming of the automobile, better roads were gradually built. They were built of macadam.
In earlier years, I remember traveling on the southside road between Margaretville and Arena. As one neared the old Arena cemetery, the road became very uneven and one would take a firmer grasp on the steering wheel of the automobile as it seemed to quiver along over this stretch of road which was a section of an old hemlock log road. An early hemlock log road was also built near the present location of the Fairbairn Lumber Company on the southside road. At one time that area was all swamp land.
Will Cockburn's map of 1765 shows a road from Marbletown up, Esopus creek, over Pine Hill, and down the Tweed (Bush kill) to Pakatakan. This was the first road leading into what is now Delaware County.
Sauthier's map of the Province of New York published January 1, 1779, shows a road laid out from Saugerties to Pakataghkan. The map also shows another from Kingston by way of Marbletown to the same place and one down the East branch of the Delaware to "Papacunch." No other roads are shown in or leading to the Delaware County area.
The Ulster and Delaware turnpike road, as constructed, passed by way of "the Red Bridge" over the Esopus creek at Kingston to the home of Lazarus Sprague at Shandaken and thence over Pine Hill to the Old Stone school house east of Dunraven mostly on the existing roadbed. Near the Stone Schoolhouse the road crossed the East branch of the Delaware and ran up the Plattekill over Palmer Hill to Andes. Then it went over Cabin Hill to Delancey, then to near the bridge at Hamden, and so on to Walton. From Dunraven to Hamden the road was all new road built through the wilderness.
Formerly the road between Clark's Factory, now Dunraven, and Margaretville ran over the hill farther back from the river on the same side. It crossed the New Kingston road at the foot of the hill north of Margaretville and continued up the valley past the cemetery and on to Arkville. The old roadbed is still visible along the hillside back of the hospital.
Native trees of the mountains are maple, beech, birch, ash, basswood, oak, elm, and black cherry. The pine of early times and the dark forests of hemlock have nearly disappeared. The hemlock were cut in early days and used in the tanning factories in the manufacture of leather for early boots and shoes.
Due to the many varieties of trees in our Section and especially to the hard and soft maples, the fall color surrounding our village and extending throughout the Catskills is one of unsurpassed beauty.
The oldest cemetery in this area was on the DuMond farm across the river from Margaretville. This place contained graves of some of the children of the original settlers. It was long neglected and finally destroyed by the grading of the D & E Railroad. During the grading many bones of unknown dead were exhumed.
One of the first settlers of Margaretville Village in 1784 was named Ignos DuMond, a nephew of Harmanus DuMond.
In 1843 only three buildings were where Margaretville now is, a sawmill, a millhouse and a dwelling owned by Salmon Scott. The site of the "Ackerley house," as it was called, was bought for $110 and the hotel built in 1845. It was on the corner of what is now Main and Walnut Streets and covered the area occupied by Jo Christian's drug store, the Esso Station, and the parking lot in back.
Soon after Dr. O. M. Allaben built a residence and office. The first store in the village was kept in this office.
Bussy's Store, now well over one hundred years old, was built by Francis O'Connor.
The Charles Gorsch cabinet and undertaking establishment was next to be erected. The Gorsch home, which was one of the oldest places in Margaretville, occupied the place below the Bull Run bridge and recently occupied by the Hamways. It was torn down to make space for the Victory Store parking lot.
The first early school was near the foot of Huckleberry Hill road then called Whortleberry Hill. A log schoolhouse was built on a knoll near the present site of the Stone Schoolhouse at Dunraven. School was also held at some homes. The teacher was a man and was called Master or School Master. Noah Mann was one of the early teachers of this school.
In 1831 Orson M. Allaben began the practice of medicine in Margaretville. Aaron D. Reed was also one of the oldest physicians. A printing press was another early enterprise of Dr. O. M. Allaben. The first number of the "Utilitarian" was issued by him in July, 1863. Later years it was run by J. K. P. Jackson.
In 1863 a tannery was erected in the upper end of Margaretville and a foundry built in 1867. This was run by Ebenezer Laidlaw.
Rapid growth led to the incorporation in 1878 of the village.
The Margaretville Masonic Lodge was organized in 1855. Meetings were held two evenings each month at the Ackerley House.
The order of Odd Fellows organized "The Pakatakan Lodge" at Margaretville in 1855.
The Methodist Church was built and dedicated in 1851.
The first band was organized in 1879 and all through the years following the village always had a band. Band concerts were popular. The band played for all special occasions, parades, firemen's tournaments, et cetera. No band or music was taught in the schools until recent years.
The early band that was organized in 1879 went under the name of the "Margaretville Silver Cornet Band" with fifty pieces composing the band.
What was known as the "Bee Hive" was one of the early houses in Margaretville built by O. M. Allaben, M.D. It was 106 years old when torn down in 1950 and the gas station of Davidson's erected on the location.
Most of the credit for the forming of the village of Margaretville can go to Orson M. Allaben. He was born in 1808 near what is now called Delancey. Mr. AIlaben held many important public positions. A physician and surgeon, he came to practice first in Dry Brook. In 1839, after having married Thankful Dimmick, daughter of the prominent Col. Noah Dimmick, one of the founders of Arkville, Dr. Allaben was elected town supervisor and served seven terms. In 1840 and 1870 he was Member of Assembly from the District and in 1864 and 1865 he was a Senator. In 1843 he acquired land at what is now Margaretville, purchasing the Scott interest there. Only three houses stood on the site at that time. A seldom used log road went through the place. He began selling land or building lots, and in 1845 David Ackerly purchased a lot and built a hotel and boarding house, the so-called "Ackerly House" where Christian's drug store now stands. Also in that year Allaben built his mansion which in later years became known as the "Bee Hive" because of the many families living in the place. Later years he entered Into almost every field of interest. He procured a charter for a turnpike from Pine Hill to Delhi. As commissioner he saw the road built and put in operation. He also went into the lumbering business and owned a sawmill in Dry Brook. In 1865 he procured the first legislation relating to the Ulster and Delaware Railroad and served as one of the commissioners and also as Vice-President of the road. In 1848, at his own expense, he made a trip to Washington and succeeded in having the postoffice set up at Margaretville. The earliest postoffice was in a building on Main Street somewhere opposite the present bank building.* (*Note: mentioned later.)
Mr. Allaben also turned to merchandising, having in 1847 opened the first general store in the village. In 1863 he founded and edited the "Utilitarian," Margaretville's first newspaper. In 1866 he finished a building to house the Utilitarian School which had been chartered by the village.
Back of the Allaben mansion on Main Street were the stables for the Allaben horses. The old gentleman used to ride about the village on a splendid white horse near the close of the 18th century.
The L. Bussy & Co. store was built in 1850 by Francis O'Connor, the grandfather of the late Att. Charles O'Connor and his brother Att. Lynn O'Connor of Hobart, N. Y. It was purchased by E. I. Burhans and George G. Decker and operated under the name of Burhans & Decker until sold to F. S. Scott and Richard Carpenter, Jr. The new owners conducted a hardware. store under the firm name of Scott and Carpenter. Mr. Scott soon retired, and Mr. Carpenter continued the business until 1865 when he sold to W. R. & O. A. Swart who added a second story to the building. In 1872 W. R. Swart disposed of his interest to Thomas Winter, and in 1873 James Kittle, father of Frank Kittle now president of our village bank, was also a partner. In 1876 Mr. Winter left the firm, but two years later Mr. Winter became sole owner and continued until 1884 when he took in Montieth Collin and J. D. Birdsall as partners. Mr. Winter left in 1886 and the firm continued under Collin and Birdsall. Mr. Winter again assumed control in 1889 and associated with him George D. Gladstone and Robert Winter. The firm went under the name "Winter, Gladstone & Co." At that time a third story was added to the building, the tower built, and a plate glass front put in. This firm failed in 1900 and the business was taken over by Lafayette Bussy and N. R. Osborne and continued as Osborne & Bussy until 1917 when it became the L. Bussy & Co., now operated as a supermarket under L. Bussy & Co. Inc. It is now owned by Mrs. J. Stanley Bussy, Kenneth Miller and Fred McCumber partners.
After returning from service abroad in World War I, the late J. Stanley Bussy first worked in the store with his father and later managed and owned it. In 1950 it was expanded, made into the super market and the two partners mentioned above, Miller and McCumber, taken into the business.
A picture of the first store in the village built in 1850, now the L. Bussy & Co. Super Market, is hanging in the Barber Shop of Myers, Bell and Ramp, on Main Street. The building then was two stories as described.
A picture of the old "Ackerly House" and park (the grounds of the park were owned by the "Ackerly House" owner) is in Munsell's History of Delaware County. It shows a stage coach on the street drawn by two horses. A coach similar to this one was, as late as 1907, lying along the river bank in front of the site of the "Riverside Hotel" that burned. It was probably dumped there to be washed away with a flood. In the picture the men standing around the street all had on derby hats. The ladies had long dresses and bustle backs. A man was riding a bicycle of the day which had a very large front wheel and a small one in back. A lady was wheeling a child in a carriage. The carriage had two large back wheels and one small one at the front. Ladies were carrying parasols. One was swinging in the park across the Binnekill and a couple were playing croquet over there. A covered buggy was being driven up Walnut Street. On that too, the two back wheels were larger in size than the front ones. When the picture was taken, the sign "T. Winter" was on the store now L. Bussy & Co. Attorney A. P. Carpenter had his law office sign in a second story window of the store, the same office which is now occupied by Att. Gleason Speenburgh. The office was also once occupied by Att. William Allaben. A sign on the first floor of the Ackerly House indicates a telephone office was located there.
The Charles Gorsch cabinet and undertaking establishment was next in order of erection. After the present L. Bussy Be Co. store, the next store to be erected was the G. G. Decker store and it was used as a general store - dry goods, groceries, et cetera. It is the present main store of George Harris. It was operated earlier years as Swart and Hitt with Mr. O. A. Swart and J. H. Hitt as partners. Later Mr. Hitt left the business and the two sons of Mr. O. A. Swart, the late Howard Swart and Fred Swart, were connected with their father in the business, and the name of the store was the "Swart Mercantile Co."
The earliest postoffice building was a small addition built on the G. G. Decker store. It was later torn down.
The early foundry and grist mill in the village were built near the present American Legion House, one on one side and one on the other side of the Binnekill. Clint Gilbert and his father before him operated the foundry. Before them it was operated by Ebenezer Laidlaw.
The present Legion House is another of the older houses of Margaretville built by the late E. L. O'Connor and was occupied by the O'Connor family for many years.
Early schools were mentioned. Later a school was located in the lower end of Margaretville on Academy Street. It was where the road now extends to the hospital, facing Main Street. It was first called the Utilitarian School and later an Academy. Later the building was moved across the street and used as part of the late Frank Kelly home now owned by Gordon McMurray. An earlier school on the same site was torn down to build the high school in 1907. It was called a Union Free School. In 1907 the new Margaretville High School was built on Church Street. Later, as needed, the brick extension on the side was added. That later proved inadequate, and in 1939 the Margaretville Central School was built on lower Main Street.
Churches were built. First was the Methodist and then the Presbyterian, Advent, Nazarene, Catholic and Episcopal. The Nazarene is not now being used as a place of worship.
A great happening for the village was the building of a railroad. At first it was called the Delaware & Eastern and later was changed to the Delaware & Northern. It was built in 1905. The main line went from Arkville to East Branch with a branch extending to Andes. A large railroad shop was built on the south side of the village. The railroad station was near the main bridge leading into Margaretville. It is now used as part of the G.L.F. buildings. The shops have been torn down. The railroad and shops gave employment to many men, and new families moved to the village for employment. The railroad is now a thing of the past. It was finally sold for junk. Much of the old railroad bed is now covered by the Pepacton reservoir. The railroad was in operation 37 years. The main line covered 37 miles. Some of the men that came to the village with the building of the local D & E railroad were Dan Todd, Charles Boyd, Lester DePuy, Augustus Williams, Ed Myers, John Funari, Harry Eckert, J. J. Welch, Ira Terry, George Denton, Andrew Benjamin, Mr. Dixon, Harry J. Miller, Mr. Crumbling, and Jay Gulnick. Mr. Eckert and Mr. Terry are the only ones still living and Mr. Eckert the only one still residing in Margaretville.
The late Mr. William H. Stevens, husband of Mrs. C. Stevens and father of Mrs. Ellen Stahl of this village, was another to come here with the building of the railroad. He was foreman of the tracks.
The first excursion in the late fall of 1905 was taken on the newly built Delaware & Eastern railroad which then extended only as far as Shavertown. The excursion train was composed of three flat cars with nail kegs and plank seats across the kegs. There was no charge for the trip.
There were between fifty and sixty people to take this first trip. The late Nell Telford, Clarke Sanford, Harry Eckert, and Kathryn Swart, now Mrs. N. L. Lattin, were four to go on the first excursion.
With no protection on the flat cars, some of the passengers had the painful experience of hot cinders from the engine going down their necks and singeing their hair.
For several years, when the railroad was being constructed, the only stations at Arena, Union Grove, and Pepacton were box cars along the tracks. Margaretville and Shavertown were the first villages to have railroad stations built.
The late J. J. Welch was superintendent of the railroad from 1911 to the finish in 1942. The railroad went into bankruptcy three times during its operation.
When the railroad was about to be discontinued and talk of the building of the Pepacton reservoir was in the air, the late Sam Rosoff bought up the railroad, expecting to make a fortune using it to transport material for the building of the reservoir, but things did not pan out that way. New York City offered to pay only for scrap value, because the railroad was not a "going" railroad. The last train to run on the railroad was on September 20th, 1942.
The D. & E. railroad cost $4,500,000 to build in 1905-1906. Sam Rosoff paid $70,000 after the last indebtedness in bankruptcy was paid.
R. B. Williams was instigator of the Delaware & Eastern railroad. He interested a close friend, J. J. Jermyn, Pittsburgh financier, and the idea spread to F. F. Searing, a New York banker who vacationed at Arkville and Andes. Searing promoted the capital for the railroad. Work began on the road in 1905; 144,000 passengers made the round trip from Arkville to East Branch in 1906.
Freight traffic was heavy too. From the stone quarries at Arena four cars of stone per week were shipped. Lumber and dairy products went out by tons, and three carloads of cauliflower were shipped per day. Between 1913-1917 a yearly average of 500 carloads of merchandise were unloaded in the valley.
The machine shop force reached the all-time high of twenty men and between seven and ten men were employed in the office.
First financial blow to the railroad came when Searing died and his firm went bankrupt. With post-war depression, competition with automobile and trucks, and lack of working capital, the road went into its second receivership in March 1921.
With other curtailments, a new gasoline combination passenger-mail-express car was purchased in 1926 to help keep the road going in hopes of a future need of the road in hauling material for the proposed building of Downsville dam and Pepacton reservoir. The little gasoline car made two round trips daily. It had room for thirty passengers.
A movie scene was shot locally about that time using especially the trestle on the branch line to Andes where several people were supposed to commit suicide by jumping off the trestle. Of course for the suicide act dummies were used. Later they were stored in a toolhouse at Andes and when the movie scene was finished, the dummies were forgotten and left in the tool house. One day an Italian trackman was sent to the toolhouse for something, and as he pushed the door open, the dummies fell over on him. Believing they were dead men, he let out a terrible scream, and all of Andes was in an uproar till the truth of the "dead men" was investigated. All the changes that came with the Twenties and Thirties ruined the railroad.
Sam Rosoff, in Minsk, Russia, was just back from building the great Moscow subway system and became interested in the railroad. In 1928 he bought up everything connected with the half defunct road expecting to put it in order again and earn a fortune hauling material for the Pepacton reservoir construction or to sell the railroad to New York City. Things did not work out as planned, and, as previously stated, the city would pay only for junk value for the railroad. In 1939 Rosoff sold the railroad to the city of New York for an even $200,000.
The greatest portion of the railroad bed is now covered by the waters of the Pepacton reservoir.
Forty-five thousand tons of scrap iron from the Delaware & Eastern went to help win the war.
The first superintendent of the Delaware & Northern railroad was Mr. Wagonhurst. The late J.J. Welch, dispatcher in 1906, was superintendent from 1911 to Oct. 1942 when the last train puffed over the winding rails between Arkville and East Branch. The late Harry Miller was general freight and passenger agent on the railroad. For thirty-six years Harry Eckert was dispatcher and assistant to superintendent J. J. Welch.
The late Dan Todd was agent at the Margaretville station for the entire operation of the station. Before the station was built, he was assistant paymaster.
The old steam engines on railroads were still king at the end of World War II and had reigned supreme for over a hundred years. The diesel engines were first introduced in 1925.
Many of the younger generation have never seen a puffing steam engine with great clouds of steam rising into the air or heard the whistle used on the early engines. It was controlled by the engineer working a cord changing the steam pressure. At a railroad crossing several laud whistles were blown for warning of the approaching train at a certain distance from the crossing.
The diesel engines are cheaper to operate and eventually the old steam engines will all disappear.
This was related to me by Ralph Sanford, operator of the Sanford hardware store above the village. At the time he graduated from High School in Margaretville in 1927 his home was in Arena. His parents took him to Arkville to the well known Samuel Korn store of early years and bought him a suit to wear at graduation. Ralph's parents traded two gallons of maple syrup with Mr. Korn for the suit of clothes.
Before the brick extension was added to the old high school that was built in 1907, all graduation exercises were held in the Methodist Church next door. Later, after the Galli-Curci Theatre was built, a few of the exercises were held in the theatre building.
Fifty to sixty years ago there were few facilities for the care of the sick in Margaretville. The older doctors were called the "family physician." They did everything from pulling a tooth that ached to treating a stomach ache. Mostly they were called to the home to treat a patient, often traveling day and night many miles over the countryside and to remote areas. They drove their own horse and buggy or a sleigh in winter. Roads were not kept in the condition then as they are today and the family physician had a rugged life.
Some of the older doctors were Dr. Jim Allaban, Dr. Aaron Reed, Dr. Banker, Dr. Brown, Dr. Orson M. Allaben, Dr. Smith Reed, Sr., Dr. Charles Allaben, Dr. W. E. Hendry, Dr. John Telford, and Dr. Carson Faulkner. Dr. Charles Allaben was killed in a car accident while hurrying to answer a sick call.
There was no hospital here in those days. The nearest ones were either in Kingston or Oneonta where most surgical cases were taken, a distance of around fifty miles in either direction. This was often a difficult trip for a seriously ill or emergency case. The only nurses in the area at the time was one elderly R.N., Miss Anna Moore, a graduate of the first class of nursing from Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie. There were only two graduates in the class at the time. There were also two practical nurses in the village, one Mrs. Clark, stepmother of Cecil Polley, who lived on the Margaretville-Arkville road. She took maternity cases in her home to care for. The other one was Mrs. Alfred Murray who did a limited amount of nursing. Around 1910 Miss Ruth Long, an aunt of Miss Ruth Sanford, X-ray technician at the hospital, graduated from the Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn as a R.N., but she never came back to practice in this area. In 1920 Miss Ethel Harrington graduated as a R.N. from the Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn.
In late 1921 she returned to Margaretville and married J. Stanley Bussy. A nurse was in such demand at that time that she began practicing around the country and continued in the practice of her profession for 38 years. At that time when you went on a case you did twenty-four hour duty and received seven dollars for a twenty-four hour stretch. Many of her cases were in the Kingston City Hospital where operative cases from this section were mainly taken. Mrs. Bussy can relate many experiences in her work around the country. One such concerns going on a maternity case in Dry Brook one cold winter night, being taken there by the patient's husband in a bob-sled that had previously been used to draw manure from the cow stable. It was the only mode of travel to reach the remote place at the time and resulted getting snowed in on the case for days. Whenever it was necessary to go to the (W.C.), the meaning of which was recently censored on the Jack Paar T.V. Show, the man of the house would have to go along and shovel a path each time because of the snow drifting so badly, and at night shovel a path and guide you with a lantern. He would wait outside the (W.C.) door for your sale trip back to the house. Mrs. Bussy specialized in anesthesia and so was in great demand when the late Dr. Gordon B. Maurer, a surgeon, settled in our village. In early days much of the operating was done in the homes with the kitchen table being used as an operating table.
Dr. Gordon B. Maurer, a younger man and a surgeon, settled in Margaretville in 1926. He was the first doctor in the village to start the modern facilities of practice that we now have, including our present hospital. He located at first on the corner of Walnut and Orchard Streets in what is known as the Rotermund house, now occupied in summers by a niece of the late Herman Rotermund, Mrs. George Edie. In this location he did surgery under a very crude set up along with his general practice. About that time another registered nurse moved to town, Mrs. Rodway. She lived in the house now occupied by Dr. G. M. Palen and there took maternity cases in her home to care for. She also worked as surgical nurse for Dr. Maurer.
There was great need of more room to care for a fast growing practice and for better conditions for surgery, so a wing of the Pocantico Inn was converted into a hospital. The Pocantico Inn was a large hotel on the corner of Main and Walnut Streets occupying all the area of the present Christian's Drug store, the Esso Station, and the parking lot to the rear.
Mr. William Walsh, father of Mrs. Agnes McGarvey, was at that time proprietor of the Pocantico Inn. This location worked very well but not for long, since the Pocantico Inn burned to the ground in 1929. Next Dr. Maurer bought the large house recently occupied by the clinic of Dr. G. M. Palen and Dr. C. R. Huggins on Orchard Street. There again surgery was performed and patients cared for. That soon proved inadequate for space and the drive was started for our present hospital. The large farm home in West End of Sinclare Archibald's, which is the front section of the present hospital, was purchased and our present day modern hospital was on its way. Unfortunately Dr. Maurer lost his life in an early morning hunting accident in November, 1338.
Other doctors came and went after that - Dr. Southerland, Dr. Beatty, and others. Finally Dr. Gilbert M. Palen, a surgeon, settled in Margaretville and under him the hospital has progressed to its present day standards. Dr. Huggins, Dr. Donald Gibbs, the late Dr. Frederic Bruell, the late Dr. Clarence Holcomb are other doctors of later day to practice in our village.
Dr. C. R. Huggins is the only one still remaining. Recently Dr. Anthony Jurasz located in the village. He bought the former Dr. S. W. Reed home on Walnut Street.
A noteworthy tribute on the monument to Dr. Gordon Bostwick Maurer in the Margaretville cemetery is featured in "Stories on Stone," a book of American epitaphs, published by the Oxford University Press of New York.
Dr. J. H. Gladstone was one of our early dentists in the village. Later came Dr. Smith W. Reed, Jr., followed by Dr. William Kavanaugh and Dr. Insler. Dr. Kavanaugh is the only one now remaining.
Early lawyers in the village were Att. J. K. P. Jackson, Att. A. R. Henderson, Att. S. P. Ives, Att. A. P. Carpenter, and Att. William Allaben who lived in the "Bee Hive." Att. Andrew Fenton, who had an office on Main Street where his wife, Mabel Fenton, also a lawyer, and son, Atty. Donald Fenton, still continue to practice. Later day lawyers were Att. Layman Snyder, the late Att. Manuel Voit, Att. Gleason Speenburgh, and Att. Gottfried.
There was more industry and business in Margaretville in early days than at present. There were a tannery, foundry, sawmills, boarding houses, cobbler shops, shoemaking, wagon shop, harness shop, blacksmith shops, and many more varieties of stores than at present. Also there were a photography shop, jewelry shop, hotels and livery stables, amusement hall, creamery, et cetera. The big event of the year was the Margaretville Fair.
The largest boarding house in Margaretville was called "Briar Cliff Lodge." It was built to be used as a sanitarium but that failed to materialize. The late Augustus Boyes, father of Grace and Susan Boyes, operated the "Briar Cliff." It was located on the hill overlooking the village on the site lately known as the Dr. Holcomb farm and now owned by Mr. Everett Herrick. The late Augustus Boyes also had a farm and boarding house located on the cross road from Fair Street to South Side road in back of the D & E machine shops. It was destroyed by fire about 33 years ago. Mr. Boyes operated this place before he did "Briar Cliff."
Another large boarding house was operated by Keeney's below the village on the South Side road. It was called "Meadow Brook" and was a very popular place in early days.
Boarding house business was a brisk one in early days in the Catskills before the days of the automobile. People would come by train from the city and often spend the entire summer months.
Cobbler shops in the village were run by a Mr. VanBrahmer, Mr. Jacob Beiderman, and Sim Kelly and son Erastus Kelly. The one run by Mr. Beiderman was in the basement of the present George Harris store on the upper corner. Here he made shoes as well as repaired them.
A wagon and harness shop were important in the early days when horse drawn vehicles were the main mode of travel, also the blacksmith shops for shoring the horses. The blacksmith was called the "Village Smithy." Those shops were located on Main Street in the village. One was where the Dr. Insler building now is and was operated by the late Vet Walley and before him by the father of the late Nate Osborne. One was in the building now occupied as a garage by Otis Whitney. That one was operated by the late Bill Laidlaw. Also there was one in the next building down the street operated by the late Peter Crammer.
A jewelry store was for many years where the liquor store of Mr. Sigrist now is. It was operated by the late Don Stewart.
The photography shop, or "Gallery" as it was called, was on Main Street in the building now remodeled and occupied by Mr. Shafer as a jewelry store. The Gallery was always run by the late Ward Carman as photographer and Miss Carrie Osborne as photo finisher and helper. A large glass enclosed case was on the front of the Gallery and the pictures of the best looking people displayed there. It was similar to a beauty contest of the present day. Everyone was interested to see if their picture made the glass case.
For many years there has been a creamery operated just out of town on the Arkville road. Delaware County and this section have always been known as a dairy section. But with changes of the day and the big milk tank trucks transporting milk, many creameries have consolidated or closed. The one above Margaretville closed this year (1960).
There were many more hotels in the early history of Margaretville. The "Riverside Hotel" stood on property that the Margaretville Central School now occupies. It was built in 1846 and was one of the oldest structures in the village. It was operated by Mr. Andrew Eastman, first husband of Mrs. J. J. Welch. The hotel was destroyed by fire in March 1908. The "Ackerly House" as it was called was on the corner of Main and Walnut Streets where the Christian drug store now stands. It had three floors and a basement. A barber shop was located in the basement. The "Ackerly House" was in later years rebuilt after fire destroyed the two upper floors. It was rebuilt by Mr. Muller two years later and the hotel was then called the "Pocantico Inn." It was quite an impressive building with huge white pillars on the front and steps leading to a porch well up from the street. It had a large ballroom at the back on the Walnut Street side. Various proprietors of the hotel were: Chapman, Powell, Boyes, S. S. Myers and Walsh. The Inn was destroyed by fire in 1929.
Another hotel was where the present Mattino store is. It was operated by the late Marcel Anderson and earlier by Sherman Bouton.
The "Wawanda Inn" was also a large hotel operated by the Sherman Boutons, late parents of Forrest Bouton. Later it was rented and used as a summer camp for children. It was operated in late years as a hotel by Mr. Aprea and a night club by Louis Hamway. It is at present unoccupied.
"Kelly's Hotel" developed from a lunch wagon operated first by the late Charles Bowles. Mr. Bowles later built on and developed a hotel on the location.
"Murray's Hotel" was developed in later years. It is located on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets in what is known as the Shrier building.
Livery stables were necessary in the early days. Some were in connection with the hotels. One was by the Anderson hotel and is now used as an auto body repair shop. One was connected with the Ackerly House. That is the large building still standing back of the Esso Station. One was connected with the Riverside Hotel on lower Main Street. There was also one in the large building back of the former Dr. Palen and Dr. Huggins clinic on Orchard Street at present time used as a garage for the home. Before the days of the automobile, livery stables did a lively business. A driver with a three or four seated wagon, called a "hack," would meet all trains at Arkville and would take summer boarders and their baggage to their destinations. They were also hired by local people whenever they made trips either for pleasure or business. Watering troughs along the highways were numerous in early days for watering the horses. The trough is gone now but above the village near the Scudder farm, there is still a pipe remaining and wonderful spring water flowing through it. Hardly a warm summer day passes that someone doesn't stop there for a refreshing drink or to fill a jug with water to take home and put in the refrigerator.
Gone are the old livery stables and the water troughs for the horses along the dusty roads. Time marches on and men today drive metal machines with portable watering troughs beneath the hoods.
The amusement hall of early days was the "Olympic Hall" over the present Dugan & Taber feed store. It is now used as a bowling center. In early days it was used for dances, political gatherings, a voting place, a miniature golf course, home talent plays, basketball, school lecture course events, still movies in black and white, et cetera.
An early bowling alley was located on Fair Street just across the bridge to the right at the entrance to the Fair grounds. It was operated by people by the name of Grey. Amusements of early days seemed to be more numerous than at present. More parties were held in the homes. Sleigh rides (a large sleigh filled with hay, horse-drawn with bells on the horses to make music on the way) were very popular. About ten couples could go in one load. Square dancing, waltz, and two-step were the popular dance of early days.
There was skating on the Binnekill below Weeks Store. The boys always kept a fresh snow cleared off the ice, and a large fire was built on the opposite bank to warm the skaters when not in action. The name Binnekill, properly applied according to the Dutch means "inner water," a term applied to the course of a stream after it has cut a new channel. Thus the name of the stream through the village. In this instance, however, it was a man made change when a need arose for a stream to establish a tannery and cooper shop. A section of the east branch of the Delaware river was diverted to flow where it now does.
The first old mill house in the village, one of the three original buildings in the village of Margaretville, is still standing and is the place known for many years as the Dougherty house on lower Main Street now owned by Mrs. Deignan.
The first sawmill was located just back of the present Marguerite Van Benschoten home. The mill was operated by David Ackerly and the millhouse occupied by him. The old Dougherty house is one of the old plank structures made by standing planks upright for the walls. The old plank houses were generally warm as no wind could blow through them.
Basketball games were also held in the "Olympic Hall," now the Bowling Center, during the early years of the High School on Church Street. Both boys and girls had teams. Girls at that time played the same rules as boys. It was rather rough and sometimes ended in a hair-pulling match.
The High School teachers and young matrons of the village also had a basketball team.
The outfits worn by the girls and women were the middy blouse and full navy blue bloomers at the knee, long black stockings, and sneakers.
The matron team was composed of Mrs. Ralph Mungle, Miss Calla Campbell (now Mrs. Sherman Myers), Miss Clark, Miss Frisbee, both teachers in the High School, and Mrs. Mabel Fenton.
On the girls High School teams were the following players: Gertrude Bussy, Gladys Keeney, Lillian Bussy, Ethel Harrington, Pauline Hitt, Pauline Hill, Ernestine Albers, Mabel Hulbert, Evangeline Jones, Eva Myers, and Leona Funari.
Over fifty years ago the "Uncle Tom's Cabin" show was put on around the country. The troupe traveled with horses and wagons and carried all the necessary equipment needed. The show was held in a large tent. Youngsters well remember the show with the tragic death scene of Little Eva.
Another event of days gone by was the "Medicine Show" traveling about from village to village. I don't recall much about what kind of entertainment was put on, but the main part of the show was the selling of bottled patent medicine, no doubt all made from the same ingredients but a different flavor, color, and label added. The medicine man put on a talk of great length about the value of the remedies which were supposed to cure almost any ailment then known to man. It was surprising the amount that was sold.
Patent medicine in early days was much in use - a tonic for spring, a kind for liver or kidney ailment, a special one for all the ailments of females, a beef-iron and wine mixture swamproot, et cetera. Herbs were used in many. The liquid contents were made up mostly of alcohol and water. Who of the older generation doesn't remember the bottle of "Lydia Pinkham"?
Another rather interesting entertainment of early days was a glass blowing show put on by a man or man and wife. The glass mass was warmed over a flame and then blown into many interesting figures and forms, the most elaborate that I remember being a good sized sailing ship. Glass pens were made and given to all attending the show as a souvenir. They were a purple shade with a clear glass point. Most of the glass ornaments blown were in colored glass.
What was called the school "Lecture Course" was held during the winter months. The new high school of 1907 had no place for entertainment. The brick extension at that time was not built so the Lecture Course events were held in the "Olympic Hall," now the Bowling Center. Season tickets were sold for the entire course which consisted of music, both vocal and instrumental, and lectures.
Chautauqua was also held in some summer seasons and consisted of lectures, musicales, et cetera. It was conducted under a tent pitched on the baseball park back of the present Andre's garage.
Another attraction of later days was the "Graham Stock Company," a troupe that traveled about the country. They would put on a different play each night for a week at the Galli-Curci Theatre. An added attraction to draw a crowd was a drawing each night, the lucky name drawn receiving a prize.
Other entertainment of earlier days were the minstrel shows that came to the village and also the magician sleight of hand shows and the "chalk talk" shows, free hand drawings on large sheets of paper with colored chalk, the artist talking constantly as he drew the pictures. Some were very clever.
Home talent shows and minstrels were also put on by the local people. Marvin Gorsch and his late wife at times directed the home talent shows. They were for the benefit of the firemen or other local organizations.
When Richard Bunting conducted a dancing class in the village, a Dance Revue was staged at the theatre at the end of the season.
Lodges, clubs and card parties were popular. There was a miniature golf center and also miniature bowling center. Horseback riding was more popular than at present. Baseball has always been a top sport through the years. Field Day events were held in connection with the school with other nearby towns participating. These were held on the fair grounds. Band concerts were regularly held. The band was made up of local citizens; it was used for parades, firemen's tournaments, Memorial Day, at the local Fair, et cetera.
Rafting on the Delaware was a great sport in early years. As soon as a spring freshet came, a group of men would set out on a raft for a trip down the Delaware. A book has been written about this called "Rafting on the Delaware."
A summer amusement of years ago, for children and grownups alike (for what is a man but a grownup boy?), was the arrival of a man traveling about the country with a large bear on a chain. The bear would perform, climb a greased pole, or do a dance. Then the man would pass his hat for a collection among all who gathered to watch the performance.
Also an organ grinder with a trained monkey would appear. The monkey would do tricks and the owner would collect.
A band of gypsies was also expected when summer came.
Their style of dress was gaudy. The women would go about telling fortunes. The price of the fortune was to cross their palm with a coin. Another coin of larger denomination would bring extra good news of the future. They were not too welcome guests in the village for their honesty was always questionable.
I do not recall any early Boy Scout or Girl Scout organizations in the village. But around 1910 Mrs. Walter McElroy organized a group of girls called the "Campfire Girls." She fixed a room for their meetings in the large barn back of her home. A fireplace was built in the room for heat and the place made attractive. The building is now back of the Roswell Sanford home and owned by him. Mrs. McElroy was not a native of Margaretville. She was from Pelham, N. Y., but came summers and lived here quite a bit after she inherited the property, now the Roswell Sanford home, from her uncle, Mr. Muller, who had earlier bought the house, remodeled it and lived here. Mr. Muller was a brother of Att. William Allaben's wife.
Coasting was a sport in the village much enjoyed by young people fifty years ago. The long ride was from what was called the Third Knoll, about where the present Ketchum home is on the New Kingston mountain road, ending on the Main Street of the village. Three fellows in the village, the late Arthur Gorsch and the Coulter boys, Waldron and John, owned large bobs. Twelve or more people could ride on one pair of bobs. The person on the end sometimes didn't make the entire trip. They would bound off as the bobs went over one of the knolls. No one had to watch for auto traffic on the road in those days and coasting was great fun. It was done mostly in the evening.
Another big event of summer was the "Barnum & Bailey" circus. The circus was transported about the country in those days entirely by train. They owned their own cars that made up the train. There were cars for the various animals, cars for living quarters, et cetera. Because there was no railroad into Margaretville, the circus train came to Arkville. It was switched to a side track there and left until the circus was over and ready to move along again. The big top was pitched at Arkville. Men and boys from Margaretville and all around would go to Arkville to watch the unloading of the circus train and the pitching of the big tent. In more recent years a small circus or carnival would occasionally come to Margaretville. All traveling in later days was by trucks. The tent would be pitched on upper Main Street, using a portion of what is known as the Baseball Park. But none could equal the "Barnum & Bailey" circus of years gone by.
The facilities for swimming were not what they are these days. There was an "old swimming hole" for boys only (they swam in the nude), back of the Gorsch planing mill, which is now "Dutch" Merritt's lumber yard. Later the place called "The rocks" above the village was used for swimming.
The first automobile in the village was owned by Clarke A. Sanford. Other early owners were Forrest Bouton and Henry Hitt. Mr. Hitt won his first car on a Masonic raffle for $1.00.
A story worth telling is of an early automobile owner in Halcottville, the late Earl Beardsley. His car was a one seater with large wagon wheels with small rubber tires very similar in style to a horsedrawn buckboard wagon. When he and his wife would go out for a ride if they came to a bad curve in the road where they couldn't see ahead, Mr. Beardsley would pull to the side of the road and his wife would get out and walk around the curve to see if a horsedrawn vehicle was coming. If not, she would motion her husband to proceed. Horses were not yet accustomed to horseless vehicles and often became very frightened upon meeting one suddenly on the road.
In "Munsell's History of Delaware County," the date 1843 is given as the first settlement in Margaretville. I wonder if there was not an earlier settlement than that date. When I was a young child, an uncle of my mother used to visit us. His name was "Abe" Simmons, and his home was in Olive, a town destroyed with the building of the Ashokan reservoir. He was at that time 84 years old. He always related that he knew when there were but three buildings in Margaretville. The date would be earlier than 1843. The three places were located in the upper end of Walnut Street. There was a little red schoolhouse located on the knoll, where the Clarke Sanford home now is. The older generation will remember the little saltbox style house unpainted and weathered with the years that was occupied by the late Bill Bellows. It burned to the ground many years ago and the location is now occupied by the home of Harry Eckert.
We know that the Fred Myers home in that location is one of the oldest houses in the village, also that the main road from "Clark's Factory," now Dunraven, came through the village at that location. (The road was previously mentioned.)
Perhaps this was such a distance from what became the first lower Main Street settlement of the village, that the three places mentioned were considered as just buildings along the road from "Clark's Factory" to "Dean's Corners," now Arkville.
In searching early records of the village, I have found that the little red school house mentioned on the present site of the Clarke Sanford home, was also used as a regular place of worship and remained so until 1850 just prior to the erecting of the first church in the village, The Methodist Episcopal in 1851. An early teacher in that school was "Tessie" Osborne, older sister of Sam Osborne who conducted one of the early stores in the village. She, at one time, had one hundred pupils in the little one-room school. Anna Winter was also a teacher in the little red school house on the hill.
The quarrying of Bluestone was at one time a great business in the Catskills. The three quarries near our little village are the one on the hillside above the Southside road. One on the way up to the farmhouse belonging to the late Mr. Roney, branching off to the left from the Cemetery road, and another one not far above the Hospital to the right on the hillside.
The quarrying of bluestone was given up with the invention of Portland Cement, but today bluestone is much in demand again.
The large quarry at nearby Dunraven along the State highway and owned by Claude Kaufman was the scene of great activity a few years ago. Great machinery was moved there and stone was crushed to be used in construction of roads. No work is being done there at the present time.
The commercial application of the name "bluestone" now extends to cover all flagstone in New York State. It was originally applied to the blue colored stone most extensively quarried in Ulster County where today the largest bluestone quarries of New York State are buried beneath the waters of the Ashokan reservoir. The darker "blue" stone was considered the most valuable. Much flagstone is of a grey color.
The Catskills will probably never again be the throbbing center of activity that began around 1830 and lasted two or three decades. In the years of the stone quarrying, bark peeling, and making of Delaware County butter, thousands of horses were required to transport all freight into and out of the Catskill mountains.
Often 50 to 75 teams followed each other on the road hauling butter, tanned hides, logs, and bluestone to the docks of the Hudson river for shipping. Raw hides were also hauled back from the river docks to be processed at the tanneries. Many of the raw hides were shipped from South America. When tanning was completed the leather was again hauled out of the mountains.
The round trip from the mountains to the river docks could not be made in a day. The roads were lined with Inns and barns for accommodation of the drivers and their horses.
I know no history of tin shops or carding mills being located in Margaretville.
The carding mills were where wool from sheep, that were raised extensively around the country in earlier days, was taken to be prepared so that woolen yarn could be spun and woven into cloth for clothing, coverlets, et cetera. At the tin shops, pails, buckets, baking and cooking dishes, et cetera, were made. Except for the heavy iron skillets and kettles, tin utensils were mainly used.
At cooper shops tubs, barrels, and firkins were made. The firkins and tubs were used extensively for shipping butter.
Mr. G. G. Decker built an early cooperage shop in Margaretville. I believe it was located near the foundry and tannery on upper Main Street near the Binnekill.
The first early tannery was erected by a Mr. Chamberlain. The cooperage shop was built two years later.
A nearby fulling, carding, and cloth dressing establishment was built in Halcottsville by Mr. Halcott, for whom the village was named. Also at Cloversville, Ezra Waterbury had a carding mill as early as 1828. It was removed and later, in 1843, George W. Doolittle had a carding mill on the same site.
Different varieties of stores were more numerous in our village in early days. There were cobbler shops, a wagon shop, a harness shop, blacksmith shops, printing press shops, millinery shops, several dry goods and grocery stores combined, ice cream parlors, a confectionery store, a bakery, a homemade candy shop, men's clothing stores, a photograph gallery, feed and coal stores, a hardware store, a furniture store and undertaking establishment, a jewelry store, a plumbing shop and a drugstore. Some of the oldest stores in our village were in the store now occupied by L. Bussy & Co. Supermarket. The building is well over one hundred years old. It was built by Francis O'Connor. The first small section of the George Harris store (now ladies' apparel) was occupied years ago by Sam Osborne as a dry goods and grocery store. His family lived in rooms above the store. Miss Carrie Osborne, a daughter, now 83 years old, was born there. Miss Osborne still lives in the village.
A very early drug store was built on the present location of the Dick Miller drug store and was quite an unpretentious looking building. It was two stories high. Miss Edith O'Connor has a picture of the old store. Her father, the late Edward L. O'Connor, stood outside wearing a derby hat. His son, the late William B. O'Connor, also in the picture, was a boy of three years of age at that time. Later this building was torn down and the present three-story drug store was erected on the location. It was built by the late Edward L. O'Connor and operated by him and later by his son, William B. O'Connor, and was in operation sixty years by the O'Connors. All school books for the local school and surrounding district schools were sold by the O'Connor drug store. In the picture of the first drug store built and operated by the late E. L. O'Connor, a narrow well worn porch is shown on the front of the store. Two "captain chairs" are on the porch and three barrels also a plow and some kind of cart. Signs on either side advertise the following: kerosene oil, wall paper, paints and oils, glass putty, school cards and books, molasses and syrups, toys and notions, coffee, tea, spices, and chewing tobacco - quite a different line than the drug stores of today carry. There were living rooms on the second floor above the old store. The O'Connor family lived there at the time. Miss Edith O'Connor was born there also the late Nell O'Connor and the late William B. O'Connor.
Years ago on the corner where the bank now stands was a small shack used as a cobbler shop. Later the bank building was built on this location and for many years part of the building was used as the post office. The post office was later moved to the upper section of the Masonic building and more recently further down the street to its present location below the Dr. Insler building.
The Peoples National Bank of Margaretville had a great face lifting and renovation in 1959-1960, and now is one of the most modern style buildings in our village.
The ladies apparel shop of the George Harris Store was occupied for years by Halpern Brothers. The first floor of the store was entirely given over to men's apparel. Fine Hart Schaffner & Marx clothes, men's hats, shoes, luggage, et cetera, were carried. The second floor was dry goods, ladies' clothes and shoes, and a millinery department.
Another store in the village, located in the upper section of the first floor of the Masonic building, was operated by Cullen & Shultz. It was entirely a men's apparel shop.
The first store of the LeRoy Scott furniture store, known as the Bluestone building, once housed a music store. Pianos and the popular music of the day were sold there. It was operated by Mr. Neil Munn. Later the late Sherman S. Myers had a fancy china and dish shop in this location. It was quite an unusual store for a small locality. Later the same store was occupied by the late Sam Bluestone as a dry goods and apparel store.
The lower section of the Scott furniture store was operated many years by the late Hugo Gorsch and his father the late Charles Gorsch, before him, as a furniture store and undertaking establishment. Mr. Charles Gorsch was the first undertaker in the village. His home, one of the older ones in the village, more recently known as the Hamway home, was torn down to make way for the Victory Store market and parking lot in 1959.
The hotel known as "Murray's Hotel" was in former years a large hardware store. It was built so high you had to go up about twelve steps from the street. It was operated by the late Allison & Searles. The little store next door, above the hardware store, was a dry goods and millinery store operated by the late Miss Hulda Allison, daughter of Mr. Allison of the hardware store. Later the hardware store went out of business. The building was built in at street level, and Miss Hulda Allison moved her dry goods and millinery shop to the big corner store.
In the upper Main Street block, a double store was operated by the late James Sperling. One side was a bakery. Mr. Sperling was a baker who came here from Catskill. The other side of the store was a confectionery store with homemade candy and homemade ice cream. There have been various stores, restaurants, and bars on upper Main Street block in later years, including the two men's and ladies apparel stores of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Korn, a meat shop operated many years by the late Mr. Etts and his son Howard and before them by the late Peter Leyden, The Army and Navy Store of Mr. Tubbs, the Snyder Supply store, Edwards restaurant and bar, and the dry cleaners.
The old harness shop of early days, operated by the late Jim Mungle, was in a small store in the upper Main Street block.
The big concrete block building on upper Main Street, now occupied by the dry cleaners, was built by the late Ed Muller and operated by him as a bakery.
The Main Street store Of Weeks hardware is an old building. It was occupied years ago by Dicksons as a hardware store, later in 1910 by N. D. Olmstead & Co. - Thompson and Mussman, and then by Fred Bishop. It has always been operated as a hardware store.
For many years Reed Delameter owned the building now used by Close & Sluiter insurance, and there Mr. Delameter ran a barber shop. In late years his daughter Isabelle, now Mrs. Herman Haddow, operated a beauty shop in a back room of the barber shop.
The building now occupied by Walton Heley's insurance office, the frozen food plant of Bob Griffin, the bakery of Pereira's, and the barber shop of Myers, Bell, & Ramp, was built by the late P. O. Hess and operated as a garage called "The Main St. Garage" by the late Lester DePuy. Until our railroad was disbanded, Mr. DePuy was head mechanic in the D. & E. railroad shops.
The oldest houses in the village still standing and in use are the Fred Myers home on Walnut Street built before 1846 and one known as the Dougherty house on lower Main Street, now owned by Mrs. Deignan. The former "Bee Hive," recently torn down to make way for the Davidson Gas Station, was one of the very old houses of Margaretville. Other older ones were the G. Decker house, now owned and occupied by Earl Jenkins (this home had a fountain in the front yard); the Noah Olmstead home, now owned by Mr. Everett Herrick and used as a funeral home; the Carpenter house on &ill Hill, now used as an apartment house; and the Ives house on Academy Street, now occupied as the Catholic rectory. This last house was recently moved from the corner of Main and Academy Streets to make way for the erection of the Catholic Church.
There have been two newspapers in the history of the village The first one, owned and operated by the late Dr. Orson M. Allaben, was called "The Utilitarian" and was later edited by the late J. K. P. Jackson. The Utilitarian was bought by a Mr. Eels who came to this village from Walton, I believe, and he edited the paper under a new name, "The Margaretville Messenger." In 1902 the name was changed to "The Catskill Mountain News." Mr. Eels did not live long and in 1904 the paper was bought by Mr. Clarke A. Sanford who has edited it ever since. His son, Roswell Sanford, is now connected with the business as business manager.
The roads through the village, like all highways of the county, were, in former days, dirt roads. In the spring when the frost went out of the ground, often great holes were left in the roads until they settled, and the dust from the roads was very bad. Of course the horsedrawn vehicles didn't stir it up like automobile travel of today would, but it was bad enough The Main Street of our village had its first paved road in 1922-1923. It was made of asphalt-concrete.
Covered bridges, which were numerous in Delaware County years ago, are nearly gone. Our nearest one was over the river at the east entrance to the village. It was replaced by the present bridge about 27 years ago.
Ice harvest is also a thing of the past. Each winter when the ice got to a thickness of ten to twenty inches, the harvest began. Some was taken from the Binnekill and some from ponds and lakes about. Many people had their private ice houses. The ice was buried in sawdust to preserve it. Some ice was peddled through the village in a wheelbarrow by the late Ferdinand Clute. He had quite a large ice house at the rear of his property on Main Street. Ice was peddled in the summer in a covered wagon, later by truck. One bought a chunk according to their needs, a large piece to fit in the top of the old fashioned ice box of the home or a chunk to make homemade ice cream for a special party or occasion. You always saw small children following the ice wagon on a hot day to gather up pieces that dropped off from the larger cake of ice as it was cut for a customer.
Early ice cream and confectionery stores in the village were run by the late Howard Hewitt, the late Jim Sperling, and the late Mrs. Isaac Lockwood. The former Lockwood store is now occupied by the bar section of Kelly's Hotel.
Feed stores of former days were operated by Mr. George Parker and son Floyd. This store was located in the lower end of the Masonic building, now the A. & P. Store. The present Dugan & Taber feed store was earlier operated by Brown & Marks.
Telephone service of early days was almost as good as the radio of today. Most people were on party lines. Every time the phone rang everyone (or almost) would run to the phone and listen in, thus keeping up to the news and gossip of the day.